Baby Ben, Day 2



Little Ben is now in his second day of life, and has started opening his eyes occasionally, squirming more, and giving us good hunger cues so we can try to feed before he’s ravenous. “Try” is the operative term, since he gets frustrated and too upset to feed half the time or more, but he’s healthy so we’re not worried.

We were discharged from the hospital about noon today and are figuring out how to do this deal at home. Both sets of grandparents are super helpful and I am sure we will see lots of them in the near future.

I am loving not being pregnant, even though we’re both exhausted and anticipate only more of the same indefinitely. I can bend over! I don’t have to pee every 30 seconds, with no result! My lungs and stomach can expand normally – deep breaths and full meals!

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for more little Ben coverage.

Maui Vacation: Part 1 (Non-Biking)

Day’s Verse:
God spoke: “Light!”
And light appeared.
God saw that light was good
and separated light from dark.
God named the light Day,
he named the dark Night.

Genesis 1:3-4

I’ve decided to split my posts about our vacation to Maui up into to parts: Part 1 is everything non-biking; Part 2 will be all biking. Mostly I’m going to just put up pictures because lots of text narration is kind of boring.

We left Seattle at 5:00 pm on Friday. It was a gorgeous Seattle day, with Mt. Rainier very much in evidence.
Goodbye, Seattle

Night had fallen by the time we arrived on Maui (after a really awful plane flight; I managed not to toss any cookies, but it was a close thing). Ian’s parents met us at the airport and whisked us to their really nice timeshare at the Marriott Ocean Club. We fell into bed and slept gratefully (and badly – loudest mini-fridge ever, and bright LEDs; we dealt with both of these in short order). The first thing we saw the next morning:
Hello, Hawaii

That first day, we did what we did the rest of the time:
On the Beach

Omg we are in Hawaii!


Ian on the Beach

In the Waves
…Hung out on the beach. Ian, Deborah, and Gary went snorkeling (the fish picture is Ian’s); I read a book sitting in the shade (or sun, depending on how I felt) on a towel. It was a real hard life.

When that got boring, we switched to the pool.
We're Underwater!

Ah, Hawaii
Like I said, real hard life.

The first day or so it was really gorgeous — exactly the weather you imagine when you think of Hawaii. Monday through Wednesday, though, the weather deteriorated (relatively speaking, of course). The wind picked up, from directions natives said was unusual, and at speeds a Seattle native finds intimidating; clouds came in; temperatures dropped to the high 60s and low 70s; one afternoon it really poured rain, and it spitted intermittently.
Storm Coming

Cloudy Beach Walk

This didn’t stop us, of course, from doing all those things a person should do in Hawaii. For one thing, “bad” weather was quite relative. I mean, I’d have taken sunny and 80-degree days over what we got, for sure. But compared to 40° and raining, we had nothing to complain about. We wore shorts the whole time. So we went to Lahaina and saw stuff, including some classic-style beach cruiser bikes.
Lahaina Beach Cruisers 3

Lahaina Beach Cruisers 2

Lahaina Beach Cruisers 1

We also had some amazing shaved ice, walked underneath a very large banyan tree, and saw innumerable volumes of tourist kitsch.

Later in the week, we drove around West Maui and saw the Iao Valley Needle, which is apparently a very special historical spot (but not so historical they couldn’t put parking and paved paths there to attract tourists).


That afternoon we went over to Kahului, the main town, and sat on the beach for a while. It was extremely windy and actually kind of cool for wearing shorts, but the windsurfers seemed to be happy. We sat and just kind of chilled (har har) on the beach for a while, until we got hungry, when we went and found an interesting Vietnamese sandwich place that had AMAZING bread.
Windsurfing Beach

Fergies on Beach

Yep, Ian's Upside Down

Beach View

That pretty much was our vacation to Maui. We read books on the beach or in chairs on the hotel lawn, watched part of the Superbowl, everybody else snorkeled, we ate, we napped, we went for walks around Resortland (actually called Ka’anapali), we swam in the pool, we talked. It was a lovely low-key vacation. I like vacations that don’t have agendas or complicated schedules.

In the airport on the way out, having surrendered all our dangerous agricultural items, Ian and I were delighted at finding a little fenced-in grassy area.
Airport Animal "Relief Station"
Even service animals need a potty break occasionally, and the Kahului airport thoughtfully even provided a hydrant in the fenced area for that. The sign says “Service Animal Relief Station,” in case you thought it might be for something else.

The flight back was the pits. I feel bad throwing up on airplanes, because then the flight attendants have to deal with your little baggie of vomit, and it’s always really embarrassing. Fortunately that happened just the once, and after we got out of the Hawaiian islands vicinity, the rest of the flight became less turbulent and went tolerably well. Still, if we hadn’t had a free place to stay, I don’t think the week on Maui would have been worth 11.5 hours of sheer flying misery. That said, though, it was really a nice vacation and a welcome respite from the dreary, drizzly Seattle winter. A big Thank-You to Gary and Deborah for making it possible!

Better Late than Never: Father’s Day

Day’s Verse:
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.

1 Cor. 13:4

It’s three days late, but I want to devote this post to my dad, Joe Sullivan. The reason I’ve waited to write this post is that I’m having a hard time knowing what to write: Not because I’m low on ideas, but because I have so many things I want to say.

Now, let me preface this by saying that Dad and I don’t have a touchy-feely, emotion-sharing type of relationship. We like to exercise hard together, not have conversations about feelings. But I’m going to go out on a limb for this Father’s Day post. Here goes.

Dad, thank you for your years of patience, love, and understanding. Your calm, acceptance, wisdom, and love have helped make me the person I am today. You’ve been the tactful listener when I needed it. Your thoughtful conversations have given me guidance ever since I was old enough to appreciate them. Your faith, reliable attendance at church, and teaching me about Christianity helped me form my own foundation as a believer.

You taught me everything I know about how to pitch a tent. You flew me on pillows when I was a small child. You read Dr. Seuss to us so many times you could quote entire books from memory. Your “fish, broccoli, and rice” menu is something I still think of first when I have fish. You hiked many muddy miles with me, even carrying my backpack when I was too tired. You taught me basic photography techniques and encouraged my interest in photography. We’ve spent innumerable hours walking and playing with the dog. You taught me all the trails at St. Edward’s State Park, and we’ve walked and run on all of them. You sent me silly pictures and videos while we were in Massachusetts. Recently, I’ve deeply valued the hundreds — probably approaching thousands — of miles we’ve ridden together, rain, shine, cold, hilly; it’s reassuring to know that if something happens, you’re there.

You’ve always been there when I needed you.

You and mom provided a wonderful, stable, loving home for us to grow up in. Your commitment to your job, even when it was awful, made it possible for us to establish long-term ties at school and in the neighborhood. You modeled what a loving marriage looks like and provided us with a two-parent home, improving our chances of having stable marriages. You showed us by example how to be responsible Christian adults and spouses.

I love you, Dad. I can only aspire to one day be a parent like you.

Katie & Dad, Deer Lake, 04Jul1996
Dad and Katie at Deer Lake, July 4, 1996.

27 Years: Pass the Shortcake

Day’s Verse:
“Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you…”

Jeremiah 1:5

Well, I’m happy to say that since the Rapture didn’t happen, I get to turn 27 after all. What a relief. Of course, there’s something kind of gloomy about turning 27 years old — it feels like a big step closer to 30; it’s not prime, although it should be (7, 17, 37, and 47 are all prime); it’s not a milestone in any way. That said, I’m very grateful for the years I’ve had, and for the years ahead.

Yesterday, my family got together for strawberry shortcake and a game of Gloom. Strawberry shortcake is my traditional birthday cake of choice, and has been for years, ever since Colleen was allergic to strawberries and we never had them in the house except for on my birthday. Now she can eat strawberries, but I still love strawberry shortcake on May 23. There were no local Washington strawberries, thanks to our very cold, wet spring, but California strawberries came through for us.

To celebrate today, on my actual birthday, here’s what I pulled out of the fridge for breakfast.
This Is Gonna Be Good

And here it is, my strawberry shortcake breakfast of champions.
Birthday Shortcake

I nearly swoon over those shortcakes, called Orange Scone Cakes — the recipe is heavenly. It’s online here, or in my Recipes from Home cookbook, page 103. Lemon zest, especially from Nana’s Meyer lemons (thanks, Nana!), substitutes well for orange zest.

I have no exciting plans for today, my actual birthday, except to do some chores around the house and get my resume updated. Thrilling 27-year-old activities!

Tiger Mountain Hike

Day’s Verse:
Look! Listen! There’s my lover!
Do you see him coming?
Vaulting the mountains,
leaping the hills.

Song of Solomon 2:8

A last few pictures of Carmel from her short stay with us. If I sit cross-legged on the ground, she immediately comes and sits in my lap.
Large Lap Dog
In the kitchen the other day, Carmel was vacuuming for us, Hoovering up food scraps from the corners. She twisted her head and stuck her snout under the oven to get something, and Ian said, “Oh, look, she comes with an edge attachment.” Which nearly caused me to snort tomato soup out of my nose, let me tell you.

I just like this picture.
Watch Dog

Today instead of me vanishing for the whole day on a long bike ride, Ian and I went and hiked up Tiger Mountain. Actually, we hiked up West Tiger 3. There were a number of other peaks we didn’t get to today, which was OK with Ian. This is his game face.
Ian @ Tiger Mountain West #3
You can’t tell, but it was apparently Asian Hiking Day, unless every day is like that there. I don’t know if it’s usual, but I swear 75% of the other hikers — and there were a lot of them, even on a cloudy, cool day — were middle-aged to old Asian people. There were also some younger Asian people with kids. But it was almost like a tour bus had disgorged a group of them, or maybe they’re a hiking club and today was Tiger Mountain day, because they clearly all knew each other. Anyway, it was kind of surprising.

Also noticeable was the grade. It was unrelenting almost from the start all the way to the top. I hadn’t been up to Tiger Mountain in years, since high school or maybe very early college. Definitely not in the last 6 years. And that was to Poo Poo Point, which I don’t think was as steep of a climb as this. Today my miles of biking paid off and I didn’t have any trouble, but poor Ian had to grit his teeth and put some real effort into getting up to the top. He was a good sport. It probably didn’t help that I loaded him down with the two water bottles and snacks. I carried my Rebel XS, which didn’t really prove worth the back pain it incurred (it seems like any time I carry anything on my back, no matter how light, I end up sore. Bah, humbug). Not much to take pictures of when the summit is mostly clouded in. But since I carried it all the way, here’s a picture that doesn’t really capture the vibrancy of the green or the mistiness or, most of all, the steepness of the trail.
Tiger Mountain Trail

And, lest you think I’m skipping out on the biking, tomorrow after church I’m planning on doing what should work out for me to be about a 75-ish mile ride to Snohomish with Team Earthdreams.

Best Movie Experience Ever

Day’s Verse:
The last and final word is this:
Fear God.
Do what he tells you.

Ecclesiastes 12:13

Yesterday was Ian’s birthday. He turned, oh, approximately mid-to-late 20s. Age aside, we decided to celebrate by using our gift certificate to Gold Class Cinemas to see True Grit.

It’s difficult to describe how excellent the entire experience was. First of all, we dressed up. This made me realize that (a) I need to get a pair of nice shoes; (b) I’ve lost weight and my good dress doesn’t fit as well as I’d like; (c) I need to learn how to do long hair so it looks good. All that aside, I felt pretty sexy getting dressed up and going on a date, and that was fun. Also, Ian looks good in a suit.

Second, Gold Class Cinemas is super luxurious, despite their excessive fondness for the color orange. They had a lounge with a fireplace where we waited, looked at a menu, and ordered dinner — which we opted to eat during the movie. In the theater, we had a pair of huge, incredibly comfortable reclining seats that had a small table between them. On the table was a button to summon a server (I used it once, to get a blanket and more water). We received our appetizer shortly after the movie started. When we finished that, they brought our dinner and side (the fries were huge and delicious), and we finished with dessert a bit later. What really struck me was how quiet the theater was. Usually you hear people whispering, seats creaking, candy wrappers crinkling, etc.; conversations are totally out of the question. In that theater, we could have a low-voiced conversation without disturbing anybody else. It was so comfortable, I almost forgot I was in a movie theater. So the theater experience was superlative.

The movie itself? One of the best I’ve seen in a few years. It reminded us of Gran Torino. The acting was superb — Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, and Matt Damon could hardly have done better — the cinematography excellent, the music spot-on, the story compelling. It had many moments of unexpected humor, which contributed significantly to the overall tone. I lost myself in the movie completely. I suspect that we’ll end up purchasing the DVD eventually. Wonderful.

As I said: Best movie experience we’ve had, possibly ever. And an excellent way to celebrate Ian’s birthday, except that this’ll be hard to beat.